General



Geographical position

Croatia is situated on the cross roads between Central Europe and the Mediterranean,along the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea and its hinterland. It stretches from the hilly sides of the Alps on the North-West to the Pannonian plain on the East.

Geography

Land area : 56.542 km2
Territorial sea area : 31.067 km2
Lenght of the coast, including islands : 5835 km2
Number of islands : 79 islands, 525 islets and 642 rocks ( in all : 1246, inhabited : 47, the biggest island : Cres - 405,7 km2 )
Major cities : Zagreb ( the capital - 780.000), Split (189.000), Rijeka (145.000), Osijek (115.000)

People

Population : 4,500.000
Number of inhabitants per km2 : 78,5
Official language and script : Croatian language and Latin script

Climate

Croatia has a mixture of climates. In the North it is continental, Mediterranean along the Coast and a semi-highland and highland climate in the central region.

Economy

Currency unit : 1 kuna ( 100 lipa ) - kn
Exchange rate : 1 $ ~ 5,6 kn
1 € ~ 7,3 kn

Natural resources : oil, bauxite, low-grade iron ore, calcium, natural asphalt, mica, clays, salt, hydropower

Government

Type : parliamentary democracy
Constitution : adopted December 22, 1990
Independence ( from Yugoslavia ) : June 25, 1991

History


Croatia retained its independence until 1102, when, after decades of inner struggles, the country entered a dynastic union with the Kingdom of Hungary under the name "Lands of the Crown of St. Stephen". Croatian statehood was preserved through a number of institutions, notably the Sabor which served as an assembly of Croatian nobles, and the ban or viceroy. Furthermore, the Croatian nobles retained their lands and titles.

By the mid-1400s, the Hungarian kingdom was shaken by Ottoman expansion as much of the mountainous country now known as Bosnia and Herzegovina fell to the Turks. At the same time, Dalmatia became mostly Venetian. Dubrovnik was a city-state that was, at first, Byzantine and Venetian, but later, unlike other Dalmatian city-states, became independent as Ragusa Republic, even though it was often under the suzerainty of neighbouring powers.

The Battle of Mohács in 1526 led the Croatian Parliament to elect the Habsburgs to the throne of Croatia. Habsburg rule eventually thwarted Ottoman expansion, and by the eighteenth century, many of the Croatian territories that had previously been Ottoman passed to the Austrians. The odd crescent shape of the Croatian lands remained as a mark, more or less, of the frontier to the Ottoman advance into Europe. Further south, Istria, Dalmatia and Dubrovnik all eventually passed to the Habsburg Monarchy between 1797 and 1815.

Following World War I, Croatia joined the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. Shortly thereafter, this joint state entered into a union with Serbia to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which eventually became Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929. After Germany and its Axis allies invaded Yugoslavia in April 1941, the Nazis permitted the extreme right-wing organization Ustaše, backed and sponsored by Italian fascists, to found the "Independent State of Croatia". The new regime was highly dependent upon German support for survival. Numerous concentration camps were established in Croatia between 1941 and 1945, when many Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, anti-fascist Croats and others were murdered for racial, religious or political reasons. When the Axis powers were defeated in Croatia by the anti-fascists, the State Anti-Fascist Council of People's Liberation of Croatia (ZAVNOH) declared the People's Republic of Croatia, which became one of the six socialist republics within federal Yugoslavia.

Along with Slovenia, Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia on June 25, 1991, which triggered the Croatian War of Independence. The Serb population living in Croatia revolted, supported by the Yugoslav army and paramilitary extremist groups from Serbia. The ensuing months saw combat between newly established Croatian Army and joint Yugoslav/Serb armed forces. Following this stage of the war, the independence of Croatia was internationally-recognized. The war ended in 1995, after the Croatian Army successfully launched two major military operations to retake the occupied area. The war left hundreds of thousands refugees on both sides, and thousands were killed either in battle or by ethnic cleansing.

At the time of modern Croatia's first president Franjo Tuđman's death in December 1999, the country was in a perilous state. The HDZ lost power after the presidential and parliamentary elections at the beginning of 2000, which ushered in a new era of politicians who pledged commitment to political and economic reforms and Croatia's integration into the European mainstream. The left-centre coalition government was led by the SDP until November 2003, when the reformed HDZ formed minority government. President Stjepan Mesić, coming from centrist/liberal party HNS, was elected two times, in 2000 and 2005. The constitution has been changed to shift power away from the president to the parliament. Croatia has joined the World Trade Organization and opened up the economy, making it grow and inflation was kept under control. It joined NATO's Partnership for Peace program and became an official candidate for membership in that alliance. By very early 2003 it had made sufficient progress to apply for European Union membership, becoming the second EU candidate country from former Yugoslavia, after Slovenia (who joined the EU on May 1, 2004). Accession negotiations were opened on October 3, 2005, and the country is expected to become an EU member state in 2009 or 2010.